Chicken Myths & Truths + Healthy Chicken Recipes

September 14, 2016

Find out the truth about some common chicken myths and enjoy over 35 nutritious, delicious and healthy chicken recipes.

healthy chicken recipes

This post was written as part of my ongoing sponsored partnership with the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance. All opinions expressed are my own.

I’ve mentioned before when it comes to food, there’s a month or special day to celebrate everything—December is National Pear Month; November is National Peanut Butter Lover’s Month (not to be confused with National Peanut Month in March); there’s even a day devoted to donuts! We know September is known for back-to-school chaos, but it’s also Fruit & Veggies More Matters Month and National Chicken Month.

I don’t know about you, but chicken is a staple in our house. I make it at least once a week because it’s generally quick and easy to make, budget-friendly, an excellent source of protein, low in saturated fat and sodium, extremely versatile and kid-friendly.

In honor of National Chicken Month, and in partnership with the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance, I want to share a few common myths and facts about chicken; which will hopefully help you feel more confident to cook it in your kitchen and feed it to your family. Once you’re ready to get cooking, check out the versatility of this protein for yourself with the 35+ nutritious and delicious recipes below!

Myth #1: Most chickens are raised with artificial or added hormones.

Truth: The use of hormones in chickens and eggs is forbidden by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Chicken packages labeled “no added hormones” or “hormone free” are unnecessary, and used primarily as a marketing strategy to increase purchases of those brands. If the label includes those statements, look closely at the package and you’ll see a statement that says no hormones are used in the production of any poultry raised in the U.S. Another reason to always read the fine print!

Myth #2: “Free-range” chickens are better for you.

Truth: Let’s start out with a definition of this term. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), “free-range” means that chickens have access to the outdoors for at least some part of the day, whether the chickens choose to go outside or not. There are no requirements for the length of time the chicken must spend outdoors, the size of the outdoor area, or the type of groundcover. According to the National Chicken Council, less than one percent of chickens nationwide are raised as “free-range.” Also, don’t assume that just because a chicken is “free-range” it’s organic—all organic chickens are “free-range,” but not the other way around.

Related to “free-range,” you may see labels for “cage-free,” which doesn’t mean much since no chickens for consumption are raised in cages. Most chickens are raised in houses where they are free to walk around.

Myth #3: You should wash chicken before cooking.

Truth: I grew up watching my mother wash her chickens before she marinated or seasoned them, but that’s one thing I don’t follow in her footsteps! The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service does not recommend washing raw poultry (and other meats). When you wash raw poultry, bacteria from the raw meat and juices can spread to other foods, utensils, and kitchen surfaces — which leads to cross-contamination and potential foodborne illness. The best way to kill the bacteria: cook your poultry and meats to the correct temperature (an internal temperature of 165°F for chicken).

Myth #4: Chicken can be thawed on the countertop.

Truth: DO NOT thaw chicken on the countertop! The safest way to thaw chicken is in the refrigerator, but if you don’t take the chicken out of the freezer early enough, the alternative is to defrost it in cold water. To do so safely, submerge chicken in cold water in it’s original leak-proof package or a water-tight plastic bag and change the water every 30 minutes.

When defrosting chicken in the refrigerator, it takes 24 hours to thaw a 4- to 5-pound whole chicken and 3 to 9 hours to thaw cut up parts. Once thawed it can be kept in the refrigerator for a day or two. Using the cold-water method, it takes about 2 hours to thaw a 3- to 4-pound package and the chicken must be cooked immediately.

Now that you know the truth about chicken, let’s get cooking! Here are over 35 recipes made with chicken—everything from soups and salads, to pizza and burgers, to one-pan dishes and more. Plus, there’s a cooking method for everyone here! So really, no more excuses for why you can’t eat chicken (unless you’re allergic or vegetarian, of course)!

Healthy Chicken Recipes

Salads and Soups:

Barbi Salad

Barbi Salad @ Lively Table

Apricot Pineapple Chicken Salad @ Nutritioulicious

Chicken Tortilla Soup @ Family. Food. Fiesta.

Chicken Vegetable Udon Soup @ Nutritioulicious

Classic Jewish Chicken Soup @Nutritioulicious

Tacos, Pizza and Burgers:

Avocado Chicken Burgers

Avocado Chicken Burgers @ The Lean Green Bean

BBQ Puled Chicken Hummus Pizza @ My Cape Cod Kitchen

Chicken Tacos @ Real Living Nutrition

Gluten Free Blackberry Chicken Flatbread @ Lively Table

Crock Pot Chicken Ranch Tacos @ Living Well Kitchen

One-Pan Dishes:

One Pot Mediterranean Chicken Quinoa

One-Pot Mediterranean Quinoa Chicken @To Live and Diet in LA

One Skillet Lemon Chicken with Asparagus @ A Pinch of Grace

One Pan Chicken and Mushrooms @ KISS in the Kitchen

One Skillet Chicken Enchilada Quinoa Bake @ Lively Table

Salsa Chicken @ Food, Pleasure and Health

Healthy Chicken Paprika Skillet @ Healthy Seasonal Recipes

Italian Inspired Dishes:

Lemon Chicken Piccata

Lemon Chicken Piccata @ The Nutritionist Reviews

Easy Chicken Paillard @ Mom’s Kitchen Handbook

Chicken Cacciatore @ Nutrition Starring You

Italian-Seasoned Sautéed Chicken Breasts @ Nutritious Eats

Asian Inspired Dishes:

Thai Peanut Chicken Satay

Thai Peanut Chicken Satay @ Nutritioulicious

Chicken Pad Thai @ Lively Table

Thai Stuffed Chicken with Cilantro, Ginger and Almond Marinade @ Nourish. Breathe. Thrive.

Thai Chicken Salad @ Nutritioulicious

Miso Chicken @ Lively Table

Grilled:

Easy Bruschetta Chicken

Easy Bruschetta Chicken @Lively Table

Grilled Lemon Fennel Chicken @ Erin Dishes Nutrition

Summer Chicken Kebabs with Herb Sauce @ Nutritioulicious

Kiwi Lime Chicken @ Hungry Hobby

Greek Chicken with Tzatziki Sauce @ Lively Table

Baked and Roasted:

Roasted Chicken with Fennel, Carrots, & Dried Plums

Roasted Chicken with Fennel, Carrots, & Dried Plums @ Nutritioulicious

Maple + Mustard Chicken with Balsamic Roasted Figs & Grapes @ Nourish. Breathe. Thrive.

Coconut-Lime Chicken @ Nutritioulicious

Parmesan and Pecan Crusted Oven Fried Chicken @ Nutritious Eats

Roasted Chicken with Artichokes, Peppers, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes @ Nutritioulicious

Pistachio-Stuffed Chicken Breasts @ Nutritioulicious

Do you have any concerns about chicken I didn’t address here?

What’s your favorite chicken recipe?

Find out the truth about some common chicken myths about how chickens are raised and how to cook chicken safely. Plus over 35 healthy and delicious chicken recipes @jlevinsonrd.

35+ healthy and delicious chicken recipes the whole family can enjoy @jlevinsonrd.

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  1. This is a great post! My mom never washed chicken, but she did thaw it on the counter top! Oops! Chicken is definitely a staple in our house. Can’t wait to try all of these delicious recipes!

    1. Thanks so much Diane. With all the labels these days it can be really confusing for consumers to know what to buy. Hopefully this post will help reach some people who have those questions. Enjoy the recipes!

  2. I love the list of myths & truths! My family growing up was definitely doing a few things incorrectly 😉 I still remind my mom to thaw her chicken in the fridge! Can’t wait to try these recipes!

    1. Thanks Ashley! I don’t feel so bad about my mom washing her chicken now that I know a bunch of other RDs grew up w their mom making some food safety mistakes, lol!

    1. You’re most welcome Laura. Great question about Organic vs regular. According to the USDA, the organic label doesn’t indicate that the product is safer or is superior from a quality and nutrition standpoint. To be called organic, the USDA says the following “As for organic meat, regulations require that animals are raised in living conditions accommodating their natural behaviors (like the ability to graze on pasture), fed 100% organic feed and forage, and not administered antibiotics or hormones.” We know that chickens are not given hormones, and as for antibiotics, they are used sparingly and at the farmer’s discretion when chickens are sick (just like humans get them when they are sick). If antibiotics are administered, federal rule is that all antibiotics must be cleared from the animal’s system before they leave the farm. All that is to say that I think it’s personal preference. I personally do not buy organic chicken unless the store is out of conventional chicken and/or it’s on sale.

  3. I friggin’ ADOREEEEE CHICKEN – especially this CHICKEN SHAWARMA recipe I made a few months back. It’s by far the best chicken I have ever made – but that could change after trying a few of these recipes!

    1. Hope you found the information useful and interesting. Did you learn anything new? I hope you did! Keep on enjoying chicken nights!

  4. Chicken is a household favorite for us too! Great post on the Chicken Myths, there is SO much information out there – and thanks for including my Thai Stuffed Chicken – that one’s huge hit in our house!

  5. This is great – I’m always looking for new chicken recipes to trial! I recently read a book that shed a lot of light on the misconceptions we have on chicken and other everyday foods. It was quite fascinating!

    1. Chrissa, you should NOT thaw chicken on the countertop! I think that’s what you meant to say, but want to make sure no one’s confused!

  6. So guilty of defrosting meat on the countertop, but also very diligent about watching it…it goes back in the ‘fridge the minute it’s even somewhat defrosted. Or I use the water method if I need to speed things up. Also guilty of rinsing chicken breasts before cooking them. Whoops!

  7. Such a great myth buster post! I love that you included washing chicken – I can’t tell you how many people I’ve come across that do that (out of habit from what parents taught, I’m sure), when in reality it just splashes bacteria all over your kitchen..eeek.